Despite being the world’s most perfect food, pizza can be ridiculously polarizing. One of the easiest ways to start an argument with a stranger is to share your opinion about dumping pineapple on pizza, or to insist that deep dish is the superior crust choice. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Italians are passionate when it comes to the proper way to make pizza – and that’s why they’ve turned on one of their own Michelin-starred chefs.
Carlo Cracco recently added an alternative, healthier version of Margherita pizza to the menu at his Milanese restaurant, topping it with “petal shapes of mozzarella,” a dense tomato sauce and a €16 ($19.60) price tag. The crust was made of a combination of whole wheat and cereal and, honestly, it doesn’t sound like the most obnoxious thing that has been done to a pizza lately. (Pouring ranch dressing on it is clearly the worst thing. THE. WORST).
According to the Telegraph, the criticism was swift and, so far, it has been unyielding; one news outlet called it “the pizza of discord.” Twitter was less charitable. “Whenever Cracco makes a pizza like this, a Neopolitan commits suicide,” one angry Italian posted.
“After making his own ‘pizza,’ they took away not only his other Michelin stars but also his Italian citizenship and his driving licence,” another critic tweeted. (And that burn was based in a little bit of reality: Cracco’s restaurant was recently demoted from two Michelin stars to one). Others were upset with the price, suggesting that for €16, you could pay for two traditional Italian dishes and a large beer and still have money leftover.
In December, the art of Neapolitan pizza-making was awarded world heritage status by UNESCO. Italy had argued for several years that the art and tradition of pizzaiuolo – the tossing and twirling of pizza dough that you’ve tried and failed to imitate in your own kitchen – was worthy of the honor. “The art of the Neapolitan pizza-maker contains Italian know-how […], especially traditional knowledge that has been transmitted from generation to generation,” Maurizio Martina, Italy’s minister for agriculture, food and forestry, said at the time.
If the initial response to Cracco’s whole-grain crust is any indication, it’s the one Neapolitan pizza that Italians would rather forget.